Yazidis to take ISIS to international court for genocide
ERBIL - A UN report claiming that Islamic State (ISIS) militants committed genocide against Yazidi communities in Syria and Iraq unleashed dozens of requests to sue the jihadists.
Yazda, the global Yazidi organisation, is leading the campaign to bring ISIS to trial before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.
The information by Princess Uruba Bayzid Ismael, one of a few remaining Yazidi royal family members, came days after UN investigators presented a report on their findings on the Yazidis.
Ismael said ICC judges have heard cases of Yazidi women who said they had been used by ISIS as sex slaves. Asked if she expected the cases, if eventually turned into lawsuits, may bring an international recognition that ISIS committed genocide against Yazidis, the princess suggested that what really mattered was to have history record the genocide against Yazidis.
“After 100 years of the genocide in Armenia, only Germany recognised it,” she said. “In our case, we may not get that far but it is certainly worthwhile to make the effort and to remind the world and future generations of the atrocities committed by this terror group against our people.”
UN investigators said ISIS committed genocide against Yazidis in Syria and Iraq, seeking to destroy the ethno-religious group through killings, sexual slavery and other crimes.
“The genocide of the Yazidis is ongoing,” the investigators said, urging major powers to rescue the approximately 3,200 Kurdish Yazidi women and children held by ISIS and refer the case to the ICC.
The UN General Assembly regards genocide as a crime prosecuted under international law for whatever context or reason, be it religious, racial, ethnic or political. Masroor Aswad Mohialdeen, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, said ISIS “denied the Yazidis their right of existence because of their religion”.
“Iraq’s parliament and government have confirmed the genocide that ISIS committed against the Yazidis and the other ethno-religious groups that were living in the areas controlled by ISIS,” Mohialdeen said.
“There’s an international will to have the war crimes against the Yazidis brought to the world’s tribunal,” he said, pointing out that there were allegations of atrocities committed against Turkmen, Christians, Shias and even Sunnis in areas ruled by ISIS. He insisted that the worst crimes were committed against Yazidis.
International attention will “give the Iraqi government the support needed to sue ISIS agents and to cut their financial resources”, Mohialdeen said.
“There is an international project to protect the ethno-religion minorities through establishing a region for them in the Mosul plain, north of Iraq,” he said.
According to the Directorate for the Yazidi Affairs in the regional government of Iraqi Kurdistan there were 550,000 Yazidis in northern Iraq prior to ISIS taking control of the area.
Now, there are 400,000 displaced Yazidis, 65,000 immigrants, 5,838 kidnapped, 841 missing, 1,280 killed, 280 dead and 890 wounded, according to the statistics. It said 18 Yazidi shrines were destroyed and 12 mass graves with hundreds of skeletons were discovered in Sinjar.
Ismael said she hoped world governments and international organisations would help free the kidnapped Yazidis, who are mostly women and children.
“It is also necessary to bring to trial the criminals who helped the militants enter the Yazidi towns to commit their atrocities”, she said, pointing to ISIS help coming from unnamed Iraqi “extremist Muslims” and Kurdish peshmerga forces in Sinjar.
The town of Sinjar has come to define the war for northern Iraq since ISIS seized it in August 2014 and ruled it for 15 months. The militants killed, enslaved or kidnapped thousands of Yazidis, including women and children.
About 50,000 others fled but were trapped on Mount Sinjar above the city without food or water for days until they were rescued by Syrian Kurdish forces.
ISIS considers Yazidis, who have their own beliefs, customs and traditions, infidels who should convert to Islam or be killed.